Monday, July 11, 2016

Justice rolling down like waters?

       There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
       No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ "
       That was spoken 53 years ago. I was, uh, er, 10. Fifty three years ago, and I ask you, have we on a basic level come to a place where justice rolls down like waters for the black person?
       And even as I write this, I must say this as my mea culpa. The math says I’m 63 in a couple weeks. I have, I don’t think, ever eaten a meal at a black person’s home, nor they mine.
       I have black friends, some close friends, but they are almost exclusively clergy.
       I have a white church, and by that I mean we have no black persons in attendance.
       It’s not enough, for us to say we want things to change in our country until we understand as best we can across racial lines.
       Let’s be clear. I’ve never been in one of the situations that police across this country come across far too often where a split second decision means life or death.
       Still, I can’t understand what a black man feels when I’ve never been one. Closest I’ve come probably is when I played in an otherwise all black basketball league once and got spat on and curse for being there.
       But I’ve never known what it is like to be stopped by a policeman for a non-apparent reason. I’ve never had people subconsciously holding their purses more tightly just because I’m around.  As I write this, on a bitterly hot July morning, I’m looking at protests across much of this nation. In Baton Rouge, in my state, there were many, many arrests at a peaceful rally.
       We’re reeling from the violent week we had last week. Two civilians who may or may not have been armed. Five police killed in a sniper attack in Dallas.
       Since I write this on a Monday morning, I’m afraid that there will be another terrible event before it hits the paper.
       It is informative, however that in 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race).
       But data scientists and policing experts often note, comparing how many or how often white people are killed by police to how many or how often black people are killed by the police is statistically dubious unless you first adjust for population.
       According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.
       U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times as great as the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.
       King wrote, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
       I ask simply does anyone think that’s true? Is it even possible in this country at this time?     


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